Boston University’s School of Theatre has quite an impressive script library. Three walls in the School of Theatre office are filled with rows and rows of scripts. After forgetting to order a copy of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo for my Contemporary Drama class, I went to see if the popular play was in the library.
Bengal Tiger by Rajiv Joseph is a very well known play. It was nominated for a Pulitzer, performed all over the country, and commercially notable because Robin Williams stared in it on Broadway. It’s a play I’ve seen (and love), and a play I knew about before I even came to college. In high school I remember knowing that Bengal Tiger was important, and in college I’ve come in contact with many of Joseph’s other places, including Gruesome Playground Injuries.
When I went to the script library I discovered that the school owns none of Rajiv Joseph’s plays. Nor does the script library have any of Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s plays (The Brother Sister Plays were also assigned that week). I began then looking for other playwrights that my Contemporary Drama class has read: Aditi Brennan Kapil, John Belluso, Young Jean Lee, among others were not present.
It’s commonly remarked by many of my teachers how difficult it is to produce a new play in America. It’s also commonly remarked how few female playwrights and playwrights of color are produced in America. I’ve just received my final casting assignment for my entire college career, and I will finish my senior year having only performed in plays by straight white men. I go to one of the best conservatories in America, and I’ve worked with quite a few terrific directors (male and female), but even in high school I never performed the words of a person who wasn’t straight, white, and male. When I look at the book shelves in BU’s library I understand how this has happened.